Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

New Social Security Agreement with Belgium Commences

A new Social Security Agreement between Australian and Belgium will commence on 1 July 2005.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today said the announcement represents an important extension of Australia’s social security agreements.

“This new Social Security Agreement will not only assist in maximising the foreign income of Australian residents, it will also reinforce the bilateral political, business and strategic interests,” Senator Patterson said.

“The Agreement will potentially benefit Australia’s population of around 5,000 Belgian-born residents, of whom around 25 per cent are over Age Pension age, as well as any other Australian residents who may have worked in Belgium.

“Under the Agreement, former Australian residents who move or have moved to Belgium before reaching Age Pension age will be able to claim an Australian Age Pension – by counting their periods of insurance in Belgium towards Australia’s residence requirements – and lodge such claims in Belgium.

“Similarly, it will allow people who have worked in Belgium, and who would not have received a pension because of citizenship restrictions on the payability abroad of Belgian pensions, to receive a Belgian Old-age pension or Survivors’ pension,” Senator Patterson said.

The new Agreement also includes provisions covering Australia’s Superannuation Guarantee (SG) scheme, eliminating the need for double contributions when Australians are sent to work temporarily in Belgium or when Belgian workers are sent to work here temporarily.

The Agreement with Belgium will increase Australia’s Social Security Agreement network to 17 with Australia’s Agreement partners paying over 112,000 pensions into Australia, while about 42,000 former Australian residents are paid Australian pensions in those countries.